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Orientation on Evolution, Biodiversity and Conservation


Admission requirements

Bachelor degree in a relevant program in biology, genetics, environmental science, or life sciences


Coordinator: Prof. Dr. M. Schilthuizen


The two-week module “Orientation in EBC” offers a kaleidoscopic overview of the field of Evolution, Biodiversity, and Conservation, with emphasis on those aspects for which the three Leiden partner institutes (IBL, CML, and Naturalis) are particularly strong, namely: (1) data management in research based on natural history collections; (2) (tropical) field biology; (3) ecosystem services; (4) macroecology; (5) character evolution; (6) behavioural biology; (7) palaeontology; and (8) invasion biology. The institutes cooperate in many ways, for example in the joint DNA Markerpoint. In the first week, students will receive lectures in the mornings and practicals or field trips in the afternoons. There will be ample opportunity to learn about the collections, the DNA Markerpoint and other joint facilities. The lectures and practicals will be given by a broad range of scientists from all three institutes, and will all refer to research carried out in this field. There will also be several opportunities to interact socially with class mates and instructors. In the second week, groups of two or three students will carry out a small bit of original research (“mini-projects”) in the field, lab, and/or library, under the supervision of one of the instructors. The two weeks’ module will be ended by presentations on the mini-projects, capped with drinks and snacks.

Learning goals

Course objectives:

  • To provide students with an overview of the research fields covered by the MSc-program.

  • To introduce them to basic concepts and the key scientific questions connected to those research fields.

  • To familiarize students with the research and methods used within the research groups participating in the MSc specialisation.

  • To introduce students to the electronic library and methods to search for scientific articles.

  • To facilitate the choice for a first MSc research project, and to enable the planning of a concept program for the two years’ MSc specialisation.

Final qualifications:
A starting MSc student has an overview of the research fields, basic scientific concepts, key scientific questions, research topics and methods connected with the MSc research cluster, and established his/her concept MSc study program, and arranged his/her first research project.


From 31 August 2015 to 11 September 2015. The detailed timetable will be published on Blackboard.
Week 1: Introduction to the EBC program; core lectures (recap of EBC theory); case study presentations; tours; practicals in the lab and in the field; social events.
Week 2: Mini-projects (field, lab, or library work by groups of 2-3 students); student presentations; writing of reports; social events.

Mode of instruction

Lectures, practicals, field, lab, or literature study, individually and in teams.

Assessment method

The grade for the course is based on the work done for the mini-project in Week 2. During this mini-project, groups of students use the theory of the lectures of Week 1 to carry out a small research project, under supervision of one of the lecturers. The grade will be based on the quality and quantity of the practical work and the reporting. Although mini-projects are carried out in groups of (ideally) two students, each student will get an individual grade.


Blackboard will be used for communication.

Reading list

None required.


Via USIS and enroll in Blackboard, as well as an e-mail message to the course coordinator

Exchange and Study Abroad students, please see the Prospective students website for more information on how to apply.


For students who follow the specialisation Evolution, Biodiversity and Conservation, the orientation on Evolution, Biodiversity and Conservation course can be replaced by an Orientation Course from a different specialisation.